I am not well familiar with what Berkeley. Their voyage to the beginnings unit that the company started was irrelevant to me and then thinner USB version did not attract my attention. It is not that I feel that they were bad units. I never had them and I have no business to pass any voluble observation about them. I know quite a number of people who did get Berkeley's DAC and interpreting and extrapolating their feedback I concluded that Berkeley did not rise to the level of Pacific Microsonic and represent just hoi hoi polloi version of what those guys are capable off. Not the last evidence that the Berkeley DAC was for audio simpletons only was the tsunami of noise the audio whores of all caliber was created to trumpet the Berkeley's DAC. Observing juts one idiot Christopher Connaker, the guys who run The Computer Audiophile, was enough to develop a permanent vomiting reflex when Berkeley DAC was mentioned. The Computer Audiophile was publishing gloriously stretched disinformation about the DAC when it was released, endlessly editing own site and comments of other people in order crate an appearance of "universal positive acclaim". Ironically, when I just asked at the site (at that time the DAC was new) if the digital volume control at the DAC's output has any impact to sound the Computer Audiophile big time "reviewer" informed that unit has no digital volume control... and ban me from his stupid site. Well, I guess it was too much not only for investigative journalism but for common scene...
In the end I decided that I would treat digital using Framer Sysndrom. It is know that any single product Mike Framer trumpet demonstrates great sales number but also for the people who have ears, hart and brain it is an indication that product has no interesting sound. Mike Framer is pretty much a pH indicator of worth in audio, sort of audio cancer metastases that if touches a company or a product that even was OK then after his Framerisation the company or a product are sonically impotent. In digital word Christopher Connaker to me is the very same guy as Framer with exception that Framer is generally is familiar with the subjects and rule of the game, he knows what he is doing and he is OK with it. Mr. Connaker aka Computer Audiophile in contrary is a Moron - culturally, technically, audio-wise and esthetically. If Framer go to bad laughing that he just BSed another group of people with a his "product of the week" then Connaker feels that spreading his ignorant stupidity he conducted a messianic duty. Well, The Computer Audiophile LOVED the Berkeley Audio Design's Alfa DAC - what more disgusting could be said about the product. It is almost like saying that a person N is a great person because an Australian cannibals find that the person was tasty.
Hm..., that was a nice introduction to the fact the Berkeley Audio Design's introduced a new product Alpha DAC Reference. I do not know anything about it besides what I read at my local dealer site.
http://goodwinshighend.com/#Berkeley Reference DAC
"Berkeley Audio Design is extremely pleased to announce the availability of the new Alpha DAC Reference Series.
The Alpha DAC Reference Series embodies everything we know about digital to analogue conversion taken to an unprecedented level – a level that requires new design concepts & new components at the edge of what is possible. The result is an immediacy and presence of music reproduction that is simply real.
We literally designed the Reference Series before is was possible to built it. Almost three years in development, the Alpha DAC Reference Series uses components designed to our specifications that were not commercially available. Several suppliers were not able to meet our requirements which delayed the release of the Reference Series by more than one year. But those obstacles were overcome and now the Alpha DAC Reference Series is a reality.
The presence & sonic reality of the Reference Series is the result of digital to analogue conversion at a new level of accuracy made possible by tremendous electrical & mechanical noise isolation coupled with extreme time domain stability. Ceramic circuit board materials are used in all critical areas and the enclosure is carefully engineered to minimize electrical noise while maximizing mechanical stability. The Reference Series weighs over 40 pounds and the entire enclosure is precision machined from a a solid billet of 6061 – T aluminum alloy.
A new high output, all metal IR remote control with direct input source selection is provided with the Reference Series.
Careful consideration was given to providing the highest possible reproduction of DSD files by the Alpha DAC Reference Series. 99% of modern DAC’s, including the Alpha Reference Series use mult-bit D/A converters because they provide better performance than 1-bit converters – even those who advertise “native” DSD compatibility. So, at some point, the 1-bit DSD stream must be converted to multi-bit for all of those DAC’s.
We could, like many other manufacturers, convert 1-bit DSD to multi-bit within the Alpha DAC Reference Series and show “DSD” in the front panel display. That would be the easiest approach from a marketing perspective. But that would also mean increasing the amount of processing in the DAC during playback which would degrade audio quality, and audio quality is the reason the Alpha Reference Series exists.
Fortunately, virtually all reproduction of DSD files using external DAC’s occurs with a computer based music server as the source. If the 1-bit DSD to multi-bit conversion is done first in the computer it can be performed with extremely high precision and superior filtering that preserves all of the content of the DSD file. Computer DSD to multi-bit conversion can be at least as good as that performed in a DAC and without adding processing noise near or in the D/A converter chip. Another advantage of computer based DSD to PCM conversion is that if higher performance DSD versions such as DSD 4x appear in the future they can easily be supported with a software upgrade.
For all of those reasons, DSD capability for the Alpha DAC Reference Series is provided by an included state of the art software application that provides either real time conversion of DSD 1x and DSD 2x to 176.4 kHz 24 bit PCM during playback or conversion to 176.4 kHz 24 bit AIFF or WAV files. The software application is included in the price of the Alpha DAC Reference Series and is compatible with either Windows OS or Mac OS based music servers.
The Alpha DAC Reference Series supports 32 kHz to 192 kHz 24-bit PCM through four input; Balanced AES, Coaxial SPDIF 1, Coaxial SPDIF 2 and Toslink Optical. Independent, single-ended and true balanced analog outputs are provided. Dimensions are 17.5 inches wide X 12.5 inches deep X 3.5 inches high."
Behind the regular Blah-Blah-Blah that those time of announcements usually goes with there is a few very interesting moments in it. The Berkeley guys took a well-defined stand ageist the DSD insisting on PCM mult-bit possessing. I say salute to it!!! This mean kind of war between Meitner's clan of DSD and Berkeley's PMC - a war long time due and I am very glad for it. I am very enthusiastically on PMC side and I am very glad that people of Berkeley's caliber look in the same direction.
I do not know as whole a lot about new DAC. I do not know if it is discreet or not, if it has the stupid digital volume control or not, if it allow to process 1X and 2X streams without conversion and what kind character of sound it has. I know that it is somewhere north of $15K - a tangible amount of money - not $5K anymore, so it shall be a different machine then a former Alfa DAC.
I still have no idea why people have interested in more than 44k DACs. There are plant of them out there but there are no recordings in 2X or 4X PCM. Those few that are available are mostly garbage ether recording quality wise or musically, so I wonder how a new great 4X PCM DAC would be able to make any diference.Rgs, Romy the Cat
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche